Kassius Ohno spoke with ESPN on a number of wrestling topics. Here are some of the highlights:
Pressure of headlining on the indies after leaving NXT in 2013:
"It was really cool to see my personal evolution from the different people I was [facing]. I've got a target on my head. I'm at these shows, and I'm taking on their best talent, night in, night out. Sometimes, that's Friday in Los Angeles and Saturday in Chicago and then Sunday in Toronto, so it's a lot of travel, a lot of high expectations, and I just got into such a good groove. I was bringing out the best in my opponents. They were bringing out the best in me."
His NBA-inspired ring gear:
"This actually started back when I was in NXT last time. I got a set of wrestling gear inspired by the old school Orlando Magic. I graduated high school in '98, so 1990 to the early 2000s when basketball was really vivid in my life and in my mind. Shaquille O'Neal, Penny Hardaway, those guys were very influential to me when I was a kid, so I just thought, 'Okay, well, our home base is Orlando. It might be kind of cool to get an outfit made that looks a little bit like that.' Actually, not many people caught on at the time because I really only wore the outfit maybe three or four times, so I had that, and that was the original inspiration. My first set after that, I got three sets, and they were based on the Seattle SuperSonics, the Chicago Bulls, and Dream Team. At first, they were just teams that were vivid in my memory from my childhood, 1992 Dream Team. It doesn't get any better than that. What an iconic team. Then, you've got the Michael Jordan Bulls, and I like the cursive style jersey, like from possibly his rookie year, I believe. Then, the Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp SuperSonics. How badass were they? How cool were they? I just thought all these could translate to outfits. Even if somebody doesn't know basketball, doesn't put 2 and 2 together, design-wise, it still looks pretty cool."
Representing the new era of NXT:
"I didn't attain the level of success that I anticipated my first time around, and I felt like I was better equipped this go-around to just come in and tear stuff up and also to fill a gap. There's so much talent here, [but] there was an exodus. You had Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens, then you had Samoa Joe and Finn Balor. We just lost The Revival Tye Dillinger, Shinsuke [Nakamura]. To be able to step in and immediately start producing right away, whether it's these travel shows or going on the tour to England or just in television matches, it's really cool to represent this new era of NXT."
You can read the full interview by clicking here.